15-19That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Eph. 1:15-19)
Yesterday, we looked at the significance of being "in Christ" - the tremendous blessing realizing who we are and what we are created to do. Today, we will look at the next thought Paul presents in this first chapter of Ephesians. His joy over the response of the Ephesian church to the message of hope offered in the gospel was an overwhelming thing to him. His heart was moved by the commitment of the believers there. He was delighted to bring them often before the throne of God - praising God for their growth and thanking him for their undivided service.
Paul was a "father" to the New Testament church in Ephesus. He had a father's heart for the believers there. His prayer for them was one that exhibits a desire to see them grow, get a sound footing, and to mature. He says that he prays specifically for several aspects of their growth. Let's see what they are...
I pray that God may make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally. Paul wants them to be quick to understand who God is, what God has done in their lives, and what God wants to do through them. He wants them to have their capacity for understanding the things of God expanded so that there is no lack in their mental capacity for the truths of God. When Paul prays for them to be intelligent and discerning, he is asking God to give them a swiftness in their comprehension of truths contained in God's Word and then to know how to apply them to their lives and community. When we are discerning, we are able to distinguish the best choice and then to act upon that choice.
I pray that your eyes be focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him. I have to wear glasses. I am adjusting to a new prescription right now and find myself bobbing my head this way and that - attempting to adjust to the new prescription without blurriness or the intense wave of nausea that can come. Without my glasses, my vision in the natural sense is neither focused nor clear. That makes my efforts at working to get my sense of vision "adjusted" to the new prescription even more important to me in the natural sense. In the spiritual sense, Paul is praying for the believers to have focused and clear vision - able to comprehend what it is that God is calling them to do. Even more importantly, he wants their spiritual vision to be clear so that they will understand the extravagance of the work God is doing in their lives. God wants us to recognize (have clarity) him and what it is that he is doing in us at this very moment. When we look at life, interpreting it through a spiritual "prescription" that is not clear, blurriness of purpose is the result. When our spiritual vision has been "tuned up" so that we are seeing 20/20, the clarity of purpose results - we see how God is moving, what he is doing in our lives.
I pray for you to have endless energy, boundless strength. It has been years since I could say that I had endless energy or boundless strength! In my youth, there was always more energy in reserve and my physical strength was significantly different than I possess today. Paul is focused on their development - spiritual energy to face the toughest situations and boundless strength to resist the toughest temptations.
The desire of a father's heart is to see the child develop - strong and confident, well-established in purpose, and directed in their pursuit. That is the cry of Paul's heart for every believer. That is my prayer for us to day. I desire that we will be intelligent and discerning in our personal walk with Jesus - coming to know him better each and every day. In turn, I look to God to give us clarity in our vision, developing our understanding of his activity in our lives and responding to his direction. As we do, may he give us boundless strength and endless energy in our pursuit of him!